I have always been slightly obsessed with documenting life.  Even as a teenager, I would carry an inexpensive point & shoot film camera around with me in my purse or backpack so I could take pictures of special moments in my life.   (This was way before I ever owned a digital camera)  I took my first missions trip when I was 15 and I’m pretty sure I took at least 20 rolls of film, and of course ordered doubles of the pictures from the store.  The prints costed a small fortune, and most of the pictures were blurry.  We had to live life on the edge before digital cameras and hope for the best!  None of this “preview the pictures before you order stuff!”


One of my family members even coined me the “family historian” as I could usually be counted on to have pictures of every family event, party or adventure!   This has resulted in me spending many hours trying to find pictures for wedding slideshows and other special events.  I have a love-hate relationship with that part of it!


My “life documenting” obsession has reached all-new heights though since I’ve become a mom!  And, the hundreds of older people in the grocery store who have reminded me how fast kids grow up have only made me more aware that I need to document and remember every moment- both mundane and monumental- in these early childhood years.


You never know what my kids might become and they’ll be counting on me to have a picture of that one time when they were 3 and they made their first art piece, or to get a video of their first soccer goal so it can be added to the clips shown before their World Cup appearance.


I mean, NO PRESSURE, but you never know when these important moments are happening until years later.   Maybe that first time in a swimming pool will turn into an Olympic medal in swimming someday.  Who knows?!?


Maybe I’m being a tad dramatic… Haha! :)


Anyway, so, in one of my sentimental, nostalgic moments I came up with the idea that I wanted to make a simple piece of art that could capture the sizes of my kids hands at these young ages.   My kids are 7, 5, 3 & 1 and they are growing WAY TOO FAST!  (Seriously, where is the PAUSE BUTTON?!?!)


I researched online to find ideas and ended up melding several ideas into my own and one that worked for my family (& house).  And, I honestly LOVE the result!  I will keep this canvas forever!  If you like it or even remotely want to try something similar, GO FOR IT!  And, I don’t mind one bit if you copy me!!!!  Capture that beautiful family of yours and the moment you’re in!  I’m all for that!


Here is how I put it together…


First I did a rough sketch on the plastic wrapper of the canvas I had.  (I actually had a canvas at my house that I had been saving for a project forever… and it ended up being perfect for this!)  I’m really glad I did this “rough” sketch because it helped me with the size of the tree and to decide what I did and didn’t want besides the tree (names or ages or the date or our family’s last name…)  You’ll have to wait to see what I chose…  Aren’t you so curious? ;)   Here’s the really rough sketch…



Next I sketched with pencil onto the canvas itself.  I didn’t use a stencil, just pulled up a tree picture on my phone and tried to copy some of the lines I saw…  I only erased a few times (don’t look too closely!)…


Next, I painted in the tree with a dark brown color…

IMG_7145 IMG_7121 IMG_1669

Once it dried overnight it was time to start adding handprints.  I actually did this project while my husband was out of town as a surprise when he came home.  So, the first sets of handprints were done with my parents help of 3 of my kids and myself.  (A certain 3 year old was scared of the paint and refused to cooperate… which ended up giving the end result so much more character!)

IMG_7168 IMG_7184 IMG_7203



Here is my husband admiring our work and also showing our 3 year old where her handprint would be going…  We have no pictures of her handprint being added because her desire to cooperate never kicked in.  We both had to “help” her! ;)






And Daddy’s handprint being added…



After it all dried, I ended up deciding to keep the rest of the canvas fairly simple.  I really like the clean look of the white canvas so I wanted as much white as possible.  I made my own “font stencils” by cutting out a paper with font enlarged to my desired size for the “Lowder” and then painted those letters in.  The word “family” I just wrote with a pencil and traced over it with a black sharpie marker.   On the back of the canvas frame I wrote our names, ages and the date… for historical purposes! (You know, I AM a historian, remember?)  Haha!




Here is the final result….


(drumroll, please)




It’s simple and imperfect… and it’s US!  I couldn’t love it more!


Also, I absolutely couldn’t love these 4 munchkins any more either!  They are 7 years old, 5 years old, 3 years old and 1 year old respectively… and I’m so thankful to “capture the moment” of this beautiful life with these ones!